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Beyond Compliance: Make Every Comm Count

Beyond Compliance: Make Every Comm Count

March 26, 2024

Effective retirement plan communications do more than just meet DOL requirements; the best ones engage, educate, motivate, and empower participants. Optimize your communications to connect with employees on a personal level, encourage informed decisions, and foster more active engagement with their retirement plan and their financial future. Effective, empathic communications help build a foundation of trust and confidence in the plan benefits — and the employer.

Break it down. Offer content in bite-size chunks to increase engagement. Provide useful checklists, guides, decision trees, and action plans to unpack multi-step tasks into concrete action items and checkpoints.

Once upon a participant. Story is a powerful medium. A 2021 study in Cell Reports found that narrative stimuli synchronize heart rates among individuals, supporting the ability of stories to connect people in ways other modes of communication cannot. Use storytelling with vivid imagery and examples to make information more relatable and memorable.

Personalize, personalize, personalize. Customize messaging to employee demographic and psychographic profiles. The topics, voice, language, and examples you use can all help create common touchpoints and build trust. Whenever you issue a communication, segment messaging across relevant dimensions, whether by generational cohort, stage of career development, or retirement timeline.

Timing is everything. Provide behavioral nudges with personalized comms timed to coincide with critical decision points, such as alerts about the opportunity to increase contributions during annual salary reviews or educational content about the benefits of catch-up contributions for employees approaching 50 years of age or older. This empowers employees to make well-informed decisions at pivotal moments in their retirement planning process. Messaging may also be more likely to “land” when timed to milestone events like work employment anniversaries or birthdays. Send emails at times workers are more likely to read them. Use calendar integration for reminders about important deadlines or plan-related events.

Diversify your delivery. Use multiple media formats — including videos, podcasts, infographics, webinars, and in-person events — to cater to diverse learning preferences and meet participants where they’re at. Tailor the content to fit the format, making the most of each medium's unique strengths. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of each format, adapting your strategy to these insights for maximum impact and inclusion.

Fine-tune with feedback. Conduct regular communication audits and solicit employee feedback to assess effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Establish key performance indicators for communication to quantitatively measure engagement levels and the impact of the messages being delivered, thereby enabling a data-driven approach to continuous enhancement.

Retirement plan communications serve as a vital link between employers and participants. Done right, they can help lead to better-informed decision-making and enable employees to take control of their retirement planning. Providing clear, thorough information fosters a more financially secure and engaged workforce, ultimately benefiting the organization as a whole.

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